Move over, granite. For years, this durable yet classy stone has been a must-have for high-end residential projects. But inventive developers are now moving beyond granite to find unique materials that set their projects apart from the competition. “We always see the granites and the marbles—they've been done, they've been seen,” says Vivian Bonet, senior vice president of construction for DYL Group, a Miami-based developer. “It will be nice to see new, trendy products being used.” And DYL Group is leading the way, swapping granite for concrete and teak wood (think the bottom of a boat) bathroom countertops at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel & Residences under construction in Florida. “With the market nowadays, you have to be ahead of the next person,” says Bonet.
Similarly, Gramercy Property Group is testing out the waters with IceStone, a green product offering the look of terrazzo but made of recycled glass and a concrete compound. The New York-based developer is installing the counter tops at Thorndale Condominiums, a 21-unit luxury community scheduled to open next month in New York City. The product cost more than granite, but its uniqueness make the extra investment worthwhile, says Thomas Iovane, a principal at Gramercy. “Everyone who has come to our model unit loves it,” he says.
While residents are gravitating toward these fresh options, granite still tends to be developers' No. 1 choice for high-end projects. “We get a lot of people who request alternate materials, but when you start to look at the negatives and pluses [of those products], a lot of people still wind up back at granite,” says Louis Cohen, president of LBC Design, a creative consultant and project management firm based in Aventura, Fla. “Granite is the most guaranteed material is out there for durability, for putting hot stuff down, and for cutting.” Developers are moving from darker to lighter hues, which contrast nicely with dark cabinets for a chic, European look.
TROPICAL DELIGHT: Make a bold statement with bamboo countertops, a green alternative to traditional wood butcher block tops. The product comes in four grain patterns: caramelized flat grain, caramelized vertical grain, and caramelized and natural parquet end grain. Planks come unfinished and sanded, ready to be spliced together for a kitchen island or installed as counter-tops. The company also offers a variety of inlayed or solid bamboo backsplashes and an edge trim. For more information, call Totally Bamboo at 818-765-9000 or visit www.totallybamboo.com.